A West Midlands Police officer has been handed a final written warning after it was found he used ‘discriminatory’ language towards a group of travellers.
PC Paul Birch, 51, committed gross misconduct when he used the word “gypo” to describe travellers parked at the former North Worcestershire Golf Course in Northfield, a four-day hearing found this week.
He made the remark as he called for back-up on his way to the scene following a report that roof tiles were being stolen from the building back in September 2017.
The officer was initially charged with racially aggravated wounding after a 37-year-old man at the traveller site was bitten by his police dog – but he was cleared of racially aggravated wounding at a trial.
The Birmingham Crown Court judge agreed with a defence submission that there was no case to answer in August last year.
He directed the jury to find the officer not guilty and PC Birch was acquitted of the racially motivated attack.
But after West Midlands Police disagreed with the trial verdict, police watchdog The Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) directed the force to hold a gross misconduct hearing against PC Birch and another officer.
PC Birch and the second officer initially faced misconduct proceedings over allegations they colluded their accounts after the dog injured a man, but both were cleared of breaching standards of honesty and integrity.
PC Birch was found to have breached professional standards for equality and diversity, as well as authority, respect and courtesy at the independently chaired disciplinary panel on Thursday, August 13.
He was given a final written warning as the panel ruled the ‘discriminatory’ language used against travellers amounted to gross misconduct.
IOPC Regional Director for the West Midlands, Derrick Campbell, said: “Footage of the incident during which the man was injured by the police dog was circulated widely on social media at the time.
“After a complaint was made we looked at how and why the animal was deployed and whether that was an appropriate use of force.
“It became clear from our investigation that the language used by PC Birch against the travellers present could be deemed to be discriminatory.
“A disciplinary panel has now ruled that it was unacceptable and amounted to gross misconduct.”